3701 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19104
dir. Michael Gitlin, US, 2004, 16mm, 61 min.
A loosely-knit community of birdwatchers in New York’s Central Park; ornithologists with their specimen collections at a dozen different natural history museums; bird banders gingerly extracting birds from mist nets and collecting data in upstate New York; six people searching for a nearly extinct bird in a Louisiana bayou: these are the strands that are woven together by The Birdpeople as it documents a passionate fixation. Part cultural history, part self-reflexive anthropology, by turns humorous and elegiac, The Birdpeople examines the pleasures and problems of looking and naming, and investigates the social construction of nature, centered on ornithology and its amateur counterpart, bird watching.
dir. David Rimmer, US, 1969, 16mm, 12 min.
An experimental film haunted by a ghostly seagull, Rimmer’s film is a meditation on natural decay and the instability of the image.
A Walk Through H: The Reincarnation of an Ornithologist
dir. Peter Greenaway, UK, 1979, 16mm, 41 min.
One man’s Hell is another man’s Heaven in what has been described by film critic Tony Rayns as “one of the best British movies of the 1970s.” A Walk Through H traverses a series of 92 maps—painted by Greenaway himself—that guide a deceased ornithologist into the afterlife. Reoccurring motifs of meticulous detail, the desire for flight, and Greenaway’s notorious alter-ego Tulse Luper culminate in one of the experimental maestro’s most fascinating and memorable journeys.
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